Part 2: Understanding Your Ability to Be Assertive
- The Assertiveness Questionnaire & Knowledge Test
- Creating an Account to Administer the Assertiveness Questionnaire & Knowledge Test
- Teach Students: 2a. Identify a Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive Behavior
- Teach Students: 2b. Reflecting on Past Behavior
Part 2: Understanding Your Ability to Be Assertive
Learning Target: Students identify their strengths and challenges related to being assertive.
The Assertiveness Questionnaire and Knowledge Test
One way to help students determine their areas of strength and the challenges they face related to assertiveness is to administer the Assertiveness Questionnaire and Knowledge Test (Gaumer Erickson & Noonan, 2021a). The assessment is written at a fifth-grade reading level, and accommodations can include reading the items aloud or explaining the items. It is divided into three sections. The Questionnaire section (Items 1–20) has students rate themselves on a scale from Not like me to Very like me for each assertiveness behavior/attitude described; there are no right or wrong answers in this section. Each of the items fits within one of the components. Students’ responses in this section are automatically compiled to show which component is their area of strength and which component is more challenging for them. The Knowledge Test section (Items 21–37) assesses students’ knowledge of assertiveness concepts with true/false and multiple-choice items. There are correct answers for each of these items, and they are automatically scored when the assessment is submitted. Finally, the Essay (short answer) section (Items 38–40) asks students to respond to three scenarios and will need to be scored by a teacher.
The questionnaire helps students recognize strengths and challenges. In addition, the knowledge assessment can determine their knowledge of assertiveness concepts, which is often more limited than students anticipate. This awareness can help with gaining student buy-in for learning. For more information on utilizing the Assertiveness Questionnaire and Knowledge Test to measure students’ growth in assertiveness, see the Assertiveness Assessment Suite: Technical Report (Gaumer Erickson & Noonan, 2021a).
Creating an Account to Administer the Assertiveness Questionnaire & Knowledge Test
To administer the Assertiveness Questionnaire and Knowledge Test to students, educators create an account on https://www.cccstudent.org, a free survey site (students do not need accounts). Once you have given the Assertiveness Questionnaire and Knowledge Test, you can view and analyze classroom and individual student results on this site. The assessment results can be used to help refine instruction, and students and educators can use the results to show growth in knowledge of assertiveness. Additional details for launching an assessment and reviewing the results are provided on the website. The learning target for Part 2 is “students can identify their strengths and challenges related to being assertive.” At this point, your students should understand assertiveness and its components (i.e., even when it’s difficult, express their own wants, needs, and thoughts; and respect what others want, need, and think) and be able to differentiate between passive, assertive, and aggressive behaviors. In Part 2, students reflect on which component is an area of strength and which component is an opportunity for growth.
In this activity, students review the different types of communication and provide their own examples of passive, assertive, and aggressive communication. Remind students that a person can be passive, aggressive, or assertive using their body language, voice, and words. Students need to be able to recognize what these communication styles look like in others, but more importantly, in themselves, so they are more self-aware.
Teach Students: 2a. Identify a Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive Behavior
Briefly review the types of communication using the chart below and found on the “Teach Students: 2a. Identify a Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive Behavior” handout (Handout 2a. linked on page 9 of your Educator Workbook). Ask students to write at least one new item in each box. Then, prompt students to discuss these questions: Why might assertive communication be a better option than passive or aggressive? What could be the benefits?
Then divide the students into pairs or small groups and have them practice using different types of body language while saying the sentences below. Tell them to pay special attention to how changing your body language and tone/voice can drastically affect how your message is received. For instance, someone saying, “I’m happy,” but with hunched shoulders and in a quiet voice doesn’t exactly convey happiness, right?
- I want to go home.
- I’m excited about it.
- You can have it.
- Who knows?
- (Student-created statements)
After students have practiced changing their body language and tone/voice, ask them to try using just body language and no words to see if their classmates can guess the type of communication style. Finally, summarize the activity by emphasizing that our ability to become more assertive includes becoming more aware of our voice/tone and body language in different situations. Once we become aware of how we typically respond in certain situations, then we can practice using assertiveness words and actions to convey our wants, needs, and thoughts respectfully.
2a. Reflect and Apply: Watch this video of Dr. Pattie Noonan providing an example of two students who react differently in certain situations. One student is typically passive. The other student usually reacts very aggressively. As you watch the video, think about how you might use examples to help your students understand that reacting passively or aggressively in situations can have consequences. Then, jot your thoughts down on page 4 of the Educator Workbook.
Now that students have an understanding of passive, assertive, and aggressive behaviors, you can help them deepen their understanding of each of those behaviors by asking them to reflect on how they have reacted to different situations in the past.
Teach Students: 2b. Reflecting on Past Behaviors
As you watch the video of Dr. Pattie Noonan facilitating reflection, think about how you might lead this activity with your students. For example, will they be able to identify their reactions in each of the scenarios? Do your students have enough self-awareness to rate their behaviors? If not, think about how you can support them in becoming more aware of how they respond in certain situations.
Begin this activity by asking students about the interactions that they’ve had with others recently and the degree to which they have been passive, assertive, or aggressive. Students should consider some recent interpersonal interactions with their friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, parents or guardians, teachers, and others.
Ask students to draw a mark on the arrow to show where they think their behavior fell on the spectrum of passive, assertive, and aggressive for each of the interactions in the table below and on the “Teach Students: 2b. Reflecting on Past Behaviors” handout (Handout 2b. linked on page 9 of your Educator Workbook).
Ask students to reflect on their ratings using the following questions to help generate detailed responses.
- In which of the scenarios did you react most passively? Why do you think this was the case, and how do you think the outcome would have been different if you had reacted more assertively?
- In which of the scenarios did you react aggressively? Why do you think you chose to communicate aggressively in this situation, and how do you think the outcome would have been different if you had chosen to react more assertively?
2b. Reflect and Apply: Think about the scenarios in Handout 2b. Are there times when you act differently based on the person you were interacting with? Identify one situation where you have acted passively but wish you could have been more assertive and one where you have acted aggressively but wish you could have been more assertive. Write your thoughts on page 5 of the Educator Workbook.